We all love to dream.
Imagining a better future for ourselves and our world is a powerful way to activate our innate creative potential.
Maybe you’re imagining and working toward a new job, an inspired creative project, a cozy new home, or a more fulfilling relationship. Dreaming and working toward those dreams can be expansive, fun, and fulfilling.
Whatever you're yearning for, here's an idea to consider that will make your dreams even more satisfying…
It involves focusing on inner embodiment as well as the outer manifestation of your dreams. With this approach, you let go of focussing solely on the outer form of what you want and go for what lies at the heart of your dream.
Inner embodiment is about developing the internal state of being you are really yearning for, rather than just chasing after the outer package that looks good and desirable right now.
Our dreams are really avenues to experience new inner states of being. We often get this turned around, thinking we will feel content and satisfied if our dreams materializes. All too often the satisfaction we feel when a dream comes true is fleeting. And then we're off to chase another dream. Our inner state of being is what creates a rich and sustained state of fulfillment, whatever is happening in your life.
If you learn to embody and more fully live the inner state or quality that lies at the heart of your dreams, outer experiences naturally come into your life that resonate with and express the new inner state you have embodied.
If you want more abundance in your life, cultivate the inner capacity to give more abundantly. Give more time, more presence, more money… whatever you have.
If you want to receive more, practice and embody the capacity to receive more. Let life in, all of it... the light, the dark and all the interesting shades in-between.
If you want to manifest more love in your relationships…. become a fuller embodiment of love. As you do so you will naturally draw out more love in your current relationships and probably magnetize some new loving relationships as well.
We are incredibly magnetic.
We constantly attract what we carry within our psyches, whether it is conscious and unconscious. The undercurrents of your psyche will eventually show up in your life, even if you have spent years trying to deny, repress, or hide an inner conditions you don’t like.
If you feel weak inside, you will, sooner or later, attract outer experiences that validate this feeling.
If you feel strong inside, you will naturally attract experiences that validate this feeling.
If part of you feels strong and part of you feels weak, you will experience a sometimes crazy making mix of experiences in which you feel both weak and strong. This is where most people live.
Feeling unloveable? Experiences will come around that affirm this… no matter how much you tell yourself you are lovable.
The undercurrents of our psyche are magnetic, even when we cover them over with a veneer of positivity and affirmations.
Every part of us is magnetic. The life we are currently living is the life we have naturally magnetized from the inside out.
It gets a bit tricky when you are on a path of growth and spiritual evolution. As you change inwardly, the outer life you have created begins to feel too small. Some days you feel like you are walking in shoes that are way too tight. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. With every step.
That kind of pain just means it is time to dream bigger.
It is time to dream of walking in shiny new shoes that actually fit and express your expanding inner radiance. The challenges come when all parts of your psyche have not caught up with the bigger dream.
This is the time to work and grow inwardly to fully embody what you need to step into the bigger dream.
So let yourself dream big. At the same time, put just as much energy into cultivating and embodying the qualities and ways of being that live at the heart of your dreams.
In the initial stages of embodiment we are called to become more attuned to the love, wisdom, and strength of the soul, so we can more fully live and express these qualities through our whole being.
As embodiment progresses, your mind gradually clears and quiets. Self defeating thought patterns shift and emotional healing occurs. The subtle connections between heart, mind, soul, brain, and body are gradually rewired so that authentic, healthy, and appropriate responses and interactions spontaneously emerge in the moment.
Outer circumstances have less influence on your sense of well being.
You feel a deep grounded presence.
The ups and downs of life gradually take on less significance.
Authentic and clear communication arises naturally through your conversations.
You shine brighter.
Clear intuitive knowing is a regular occurrence.
You feel gloriously hijacked by spontaneous waves of love coming to and through you.
There is a loss of interest in drama—yours and theirs.
Your magnetism increases and you feel truly beautiful.
Laughter and lightheartedness arise unexpectedly.
You look at the world through soft empathetic eyes.
Spontaneous miracles and unexplainable life enhancing “coincidences” occur regularly.
There is an apparent reversal of the aging process.
Expanded opportunities to share your unique gifts unexpectedly enter your sphere.
Creative surges take you into wild territory you’ve never known before.
You discover super powers you never knew you had.
Through embodiment, you find a new stability as you begin to feel solidly anchored in this fresh clear state. Even though you may still feel pushed around by circumstances from time to time, there is a newfound strength that is strong and consistent. You now have a deeper understanding of what is means to feel really centered.
In this stage, you are more fully yourself then ever before.
You appreciate yourself for who you are, rather than dwelling on who you would like to be. The fantasy projections that you can never quite live up to begin to lose power and influence in your life. The “not enough” illusion you have danced with for so long begins to fade away.
The constant effort to improve yourself gloriously dies down and is replaced by feelings of equanimity. You still want to explore and evolve, but these impulses come from a completely different place than they used to. They come from a genuine desire to learn and grow, rather than a sense of not being just fine the way you are.
This deepening self acceptance sparks strong feelings of self love, which is a powerful sign that this part of the embodiment process is unfolding in healthy ways.
This growing self love isn’t narcissistic or egotistical. It’s more pure and clear, emerging out of a deeper recognition of who you are in your fullness.
This is a time to celebrate yourself and all you have done to get to this shiny new place. It has not been easy. Yet it has been totally worth the struggles and egoic tug of wars; the tortured moments when you resisted surrendering to a higher way; and all the time and energy it took to stay true to your path. Especially when others scoffed at you or doubted you, and thought you were a little bit crazy. Or maybe even a whole lot crazy.
Delightfully, you come through this period with something totally unexpected. It isn’t quite the happiness you expected to feel, but something much richer and more nourishing.
You feel content. It is a soft sure comforting feeling that all is well, and it ALWAYS has been. Even when you were rocking and rolling in trauma and drama.
You find yourself in a more solid state, even as life presents you with a fresh load of challenges. Some that are bigger than ever. In the midst of it all, your mantra becomes, “I got this”. And you do. It isn’t always easy… but you know you will figure out how to deal with whatever comes your way.
This is a very different state than, “Everything is going to be all right”.
You KNOW, deep down and through and through: “Everything IS all right. Right here. Right now”. Even when life is hard and there are dark arrows coming your way.
You breathe easier because you are living and breathing as the Soul. This is your most authentic self, and all else is costuming and roll playing. And you totally know it.
As you live and breathe as the soul, you know the real you is safe and timeless and immortal. And all the other parts are coming and going, living and changing in order to awaken their inherent soulfulness.
There are still challenges. And really hard day when you want to give up and eat way too much ice cream and lay on the beach all day.
Yep, the challenges are definitely still there. But somehow you know you will eventually make it through all of them, triumphant and grateful for the whole process.
Your wounds become scars that remind you of deep truths and life changing lessons.
I’m sharing another blog about the post awakening experiences that are common for many people on a growth path. I’ve gotten so much positive feedback about how relevant and valuable these posts are.
Why have these posts struck a cord with so many?
Because we continually go through cycles of awakening and embodiment, often without even realizing we are doing so. And sometime we get stuck along the way.
In the post awakening period, you come face to face with our own fears and vulnerability. In the face of these uncomfortable feelings, many people doubt themselves and their choices.
After reveling in the vastness of awakening, you can suddenly feel really small and unsure of yourself. Yet the fears and feelings of vulnerability that naturally arise are a necessary part of the growth process. When this happens, please remember that everything is all right.
Let yourself feel these fears. Let yourself be vulnerable. Give yourself permission to be authentic to whatever is emerging… because that is the way of embodiment.
There is nothing to transcend anymore. Transcendence may have served you on the way toward awakening, but it is time to let it go.
The agenda of the embodiment process is embracing it all. Leaning in through the rough and ragged moments, as well as the unbearably joyful and throughly nourishing ones.
The feelings that get stirred up by awakening are stirred up for a reason. They have been with you for a long time. It is now time for them to grow and evolve, or to retire and move on. One way or another, it is time for change. Sometimes these parts naturally fall away on their own, but they often need help.
Awakening stirs up all that is not in harmony with the awakened state. The bigger the awakening, the bigger the pile of stuff that rears its head.
Stuff definitely comes up, yet after awakening you have greater strength and insight to deal with these feelings, beliefs and old survival patterns in more empowering ways. Maybe you call bullshit on them. Maybe you listen to these parts and teach them new ways of being. Maybe you comfort the part of you that is scared of playing in a bigger arena, and let it know the rest of you is committed to moving forward one way or another.
There are many effective ways to grow and evolve these parts of your psyche. Learning these new strategies is the essence of the embodiment process.
Whatever approaches you use, this is the most important factor to remember in facing post awakening tension….
Do not run. Do not hide, and by all means do not shrink in the face of those fears, doubts, or confusion.
Stand as the Awakened One… offering a healing hand to the parts of you that simply want to stay safe.
Stand as the Soul, offering your wisdom and radiance to the parts of you that have been hiding in the shadows.
Because after awakening, the rules of the game change. Staying safe by shrinking and hiding, controlling, competing, or manipulating no longer works. The old strategies that used to help you feel safe make you feel more vulnerable than ever after awakening. They fall flat… even if you have gotten really good at them.
After awakening we stay safe by leaning in and fully showing up.
You take care of yourself by growing bigger to meet the challenges of the day. You stay safe by sharpening your sword of light… until one day you realize that you have always been safe and always will be.
You realize the part of you that has been strategizing about safety and survival FOR-EVER is becoming obsolete. It is being healed and infused with the light of the Soul.
When you stand as the Awakened Soul… you are totally safe… always.
When you shrink as the fearful one… you will never ever ever ever feel truly safe.
Here’s why… the fearful parts are always using outdated strategies to face current challenges.
Imagine using a sword to fend off bullets. Definitely not an effective strategy. Even if the sword has worked in the past.
I repeat… the fearful parts always use strategies from the past. These strategies probably didn’t work very well way back when. Yet we keep trying using them again and again. We keep walking down those well worn paths over and over again, wondering why we feel so small and yucky and ineffective.
What kind of outdated strategies are you using to feel safe?
Do you hide, rather than shine?
Do you try to dominate and control situations rather then allow life to gracefully unfold?
Does some part of you need to be really good at everything you do, rather then allow yourself to be perfectly imperfect liked every other human?
Do you sell out rather then stand for what you really believe in order to be accepted?
Have you stopped going for what is really inspiring so you don't have to risk failure?
I invite you to notice and identify at least one of your strategies this week. This is the first step in liberating yourself from their influence so you can show up and face each day with greater strength, love, and presence.
In our most sacred moments of awakening, we feel open, expansive and connected with life in a whole new way.
In the days and weeks that follow, all of that can dramatically change. You may unexpectedly feel small and separate, alone and afraid. You suddenly see all the rough spot in yourself and your life.
After an experience of awakening, we suddenly come face to face with the differences between what we now know to be real and true, and what we actualize and experience in our day-to-day life.
We notice these kind of differences more then ever because our capacity to see clearly has so greatly expanded. This happens whether the awakening is a grand expansion that lasts for months and totally rocks your world, or a small aha moment filled with new insight.
Brings these sometimes vastly different experiences into harmony demands embracing both the expansiveness you have touched, as well as the more human and limited parts of yourself. These internal gaps dissipate as our freshly expanded awareness is integrated into new ways of living, loving, and creating. Sometimes this happens quite gracefully and you feel like you are living in the flow like never before.
And sometimes this post awakening phase can feel like being put through a meat grinder. You may feel totally raw, tender, and vulnerable as you flounder about in unknown territory, unsure of what is coming next.
Internal tension emerges when parts of your psyche resist what you now know to be real and true. If the less evolved parts within are not integrated with the expansiveness you have touched, the inner tension grows. The old and the new perspectives come head to head inside of you. This can create an internal tug of war.
This internal tension can show up in many different forms. You may feel unsettled, anxious, or irritable. There may be a deep sense of loss as the old ways of thinking and living die off.
Once your world has been popped wide open during times of awakening, old behavior patterns are seen in a whole new way.
Your usual reactions and behaviors may now seem small, ineffective, or childish at times. Your typical responses may suddenly seem selfish, manipulative, or domineering. Even if the tired old ways are seen as limited and obsolete after an awakening, they may still be hard to let go of. You have taken comfort in them for a very long time. These strategies often led to getting results you wanted. At the very least, the old ways of thinking, feeling and relating created a sense of safety within the smaller sphere you previously inhabited.
Even when these immature parts are seen through the new lens of awakening, not all parts of your psyche are immediately onboard with the new vision.
In this stage of growth, consciously releasing and tenderly sending your old modes of living on their way is an essential part of bringing about integration and internal harmony. If these losses are not acknowledged and the needed tears are not shed, the sense of loss can easily turn into depression and hopelessness. When this happens, those precious moments of awakening can seem so far out of reach that you feel like you may never be able to access them again. It can feel like the thrill of winning the lottery one month, only to feel the sting of losing it all the next.
Even with times of expansive joy and profound well-being mixed in, the months after awakening can be incredibly difficult to navigate.
The inner tension after awakening can show up as an overstimulated racing mind, filled with conflicting thoughts and ideas about yourself and the world around you. One moment your thinking may be a clear aligned reflection of the expanded awareness of awakening. In the next, your mind may be filled with all kinds of wild crazy talk that runs counter to what you now know to be true. Nothing is stable in this phase, and nothing is certain.
When you are caught in this post awakening tension, you may be full of doubt and confusion. There is often a loss of direction. Somehow you used to know what you wanted and where you were headed. Yet the old desires and motivating forces that governed much of your behavior were often created and driven by a limited sense of self. Which means they were heavily influenced by survival needs, however cleverly dressed up or disguised these needs may have been.
What used to motivate you may now feel flat and uninspiring. Even so, these survival based driving forces may still influence major parts of your life. After awakening you are well on your way to creating a soul centric life, but you are not there yet. And you know it.
Spiritual bypassing is common at this stage.
In spiritual bypassing, we take refuge in spiritual practices, perspectives, roles, and masks in order to avoid facing and dealing with the unresolved shadow aspects of our psyche and behavior. Who wants to clean house and take out the garbage when you have basked in the glorious light of spirit? After the mountain top experience, some seekers don’t ever want to come down to deal with the messiness of their lives and the shadows within their own psyche. These inner shadows are the parts of our psyche that have not yet been brought into harmony with our divine essence.
In spiritual bypassing, the fear based and snarky parts get denied and pushed aside. It is simply too much to endure the tension between the realization that you are a vast benevolent spiritual being at one with all creation, as well as the less evolved, fear infused aspects of your nature. In the post awakening phase you realize you are the vast universe and a small vulnerable child all at once. That is a lot to hold in one breath.
Your sense of identity can split as you feel a new sense of wonder and expansiveness, yet can no longer deny the many shadows within.
On the way towards awakening, we often deny or avoid the shadowy parts of our nature. Or we intentionally rise above the shadows, as we strive towards the light. While those may be effective strategies when you are striving for enlightenment, they can wreak havoc in your life on the other side of an awakening. The blazing light you have touched demands that you see the shadowy parts within so you can consciously bring them into harmony with the light of spirit. Until these inner gaps are bridged, that spiritual light can seem illusive and inaccessible at times.
Integration demands that you continually accept that you are both a saint and sinner, the form and the formless, the wise and the wretched all at once. It offers a powerful opportunity to resolve any tension between these seemingly oppositional forces within so we can find acceptance for the fullness of our human nature.
As integration progresses, we learn to bring the inner shadows into the light of love and wisdom so these parts can grow and evolve into inner strengths and trusted inner allies.
Outer life changes are also common in the post awakening phase of growth. Sometimes changes in relationships, careers, homes, and friends are liberating and productive. Letting go of these familiar life anchors can feel really good and healthy…like taking off a pair of shoes that now feels way too tight. Sometimes this kind of liberating change may be just what is needed.
Outer changes can sometimes be unconscious attempts to shake off post awakening inner tension. Sometimes this strategy is successful, and sometimes not. This approach rarely works in the long run. It can be like a bulimic purging after eating way too much. Purging doesn’t really solve the problem, but it may bring about temporary relief of inner tension. All kinds of addictive behavior can bring about short term relief from post awakening tension. This generally this doesn’t work very well because the addictive behavior doesn’t give the real comfort you are yearning for.
Living with this post awakening gap creates inner tension until the fragmented and compartmentalized parts within evolve and expand, and are more fully integrated.
This integration process can be rapid or torturously slow. Oftentimes different parts of our psyche respond to revelation at different paces. Some parts release their limited perspective easily and are happy to go with the new agenda. The parts that dig in their heels need to be patiently taught how to grow and flow with the expanded life view that awakening revealed.
For some people the needed integration and embodiment never happens. The inner tension is simply to much to navigate. They don’t have the understanding, tools, or support to resolve the internal tension that is so common after awakening.
Sadly, this tension can build into a full blown psychological and spiritual crisis.
One of the reasons for the inability to gracefully integrate after awakening is the tendency to keep going back to the practices and teachings that led to awakening in the first place. They were effective, right?
Meditation got me to that point of awakening, so I should keep meditating, right?
Going on a retreat with that teacher helped open my eyes, so I should keep going back, right?
Fasting for days led me to a clear state of being, so why not keep it up?
Yet, we never know for sure what truly catalyzed our awakenings. It is often a combination of many factors that creates the perfect storm of awakening.
Some people repeat the practices of the past, while others try to chase more moments of awakening by finding new teachers, practices, potions, or mantras. They hope fresh inspiration will take them back to those clear, high moments. Wanting to revisit the bliss and clarity of mountain top experiences is totally understandable. Who doesn’t want to live in a clear expansive state all the time?
Unfortunately, constantly looking for the “high” of awakening or grasping at a sustained experience of awakening can sometimes create even more inner tension.
Once you have reached the mountain top and have been opened by the splendor of the experience, the next step is to integrate and embody what has been revealed. On the mountain top, the mental and emotional clouds part to make way for a new perspective and vision to emerge.
Embodiment is about what we do with that new vision.
It asks that we turn our attention away from awakening towards the creation of a bold new life. This is essentially an inspired creative process. It demands that we take the inspiration of the mountaintop and bring it into vibrant new forms of expression.
The first new form of expression you get to work with is yourself.
In the initial stages of embodiment you are called to recreate a more loving, connected, creative, and radiant version of yourself. This stage is about becoming more attuned to the love, wisdom and strength of your soul, so you can more fully live and express these qualities through your whole being.
We’ve all had them.
Those precious moments when you awaken to life in a whole new way. The inner clouds part and a vibrant new world opens before you. Suddenly everything is different. And anything is possible.
It seems like someone took off the blinders you didn’t even know you were wearing. You can now see for miles, and your view is fresh and clear, lighter and brighter than ever before.
These rare and precious moments of awakening are often the culmination of a long inner quest.
The journey may start with subtle feelings of discontent, or even deep trauma and suffering. Either way, you eventually find yourself in a full blown search for an often undefinable “better” way of life.
Happiness is the way some people define what they are looking for. Others are searching for enlightenment or liberation. Some are simply trying to create a more meaningful and purposeful life.
This quest may be the most significant guiding factor of your life, or it may be a subtle persistent undercurrent in all you do and in every decision you make. Either way, you are deeply yearning for what is fresh and unknown, real and true.
Maybe your quest started with reading self help books, or starting a meditation practice. Maybe you found a guru to guide you along the way. Therapy may have catapulted you into expansive unknown territory. Questioning your thoughts and beliefs can do it as well. Yoga may call you back to the mat over and over again as you are stretched in new ways. At some point you may have tried on wholehearted devotion and mala beads to see if they fit. There might have be a 12 step program thrown in for good measure.
In the midst of it all, you will never know for sure what the final catalyst was that blasted you wide open.
Maybe it was that new meditation practice you did every single day for months. Plant medicine can do it, and so can taking a deep dive in nature. Maybe it was months of celibacy, or it could have been the deep orgasmic ecstasy of high level intimacy that opened you in profound new ways. Childbirth can do it with a rare power and intensity, and so can birthing a creative project.
Maybe it was dancing all night at a festival and then watching a glistening sunrise in the arms of people you love. Or maybe it happened in the last few miles of a marathon when you somehow found the strength to keep going despite the pain in every part of your weary body. Falling in love can open you like nothing else… and so can losing your beloved.
Whatever your unique path to awakening, those sacred moments feel really good. A deep calm settles within. Your body feels lighter, brighter, and more vibrant than ever. Vast wisdom and understanding emerge that weren’t there before.
Awakening takes you to an entirely new state of being, whether the awakening is large or small. In those rare and precious moments, we transcend the limitations that constantly condition our experience. And we are often shaken to our core as a vast new version of reality is suddenly revealed.
However you got there, one thing is sure. You will never be the same again.
Moments of awakening bring you to an entirely new place. There is something totally fresh, yet strangely familiar here too. You touch a sweet pure divine remembrance that runs deep and true. This new place feels like home. You feel like you have finally arrived where you have always longed to be.
As sweet as it is to revel in these delicious experiences of awakening, this post is not just about awakening. It is about what happens after awakening.
When we first awaken, we often naively think those precious moments will be the new normal. You feel rocked to the core. How could life ever be the same? The vast implications of the expansive awareness that suddenly flowed through you cannot be unremembered.
Once these inner doors are thrown wide open, they will never go all the way back to where they were before.
Yet all too often, those pristine moments of awakening dim as you settle into something approximating your previous state of existence. Sweet new waves of bliss and wisdom may come and go, yet in the midst of it all, there you are… very much like you have always been. And there is your life… with all the same challenges you have wrestled with for years.
Those sacred moments can never be erased or taken from you, but they can easily recede as the challenges of everyday life come back to the forefront of your attention. The precious moments of awakening can rapidly become faint memories and vague recollections. They are sweet, but also bittersweet because their fullness feels just beyond your reach.
In this phase of the journey, the days and weeks and even years after an awakening, you may sometimes feel a bit like a deflated balloon. When a balloon is first blow up, it is stretched and expanded by all the fresh warm air coming inside. After the air is released, the balloon never goes back to its original shape. It is somewhere in-between... not the virgin balloon, nor the full blown balloon. The in-between balloon is rather limp and uninspiring.
There is often an uncomfortable in-between space after experiences of awakening. The time of expansion is over, and you have contracted again. At least to some degree. This is often a time of great frustration, because you know what it feels like to be filled with fresh warm air. You know what it feels like to be bigger and brighter than ever. Yet, some days you are living like a deflated balloon because you haven’t discovered how to sustain these expansive states; or even better yet, how to burst the limitations of the balloon all together.
In many traditions, awakening is considered to be the coveted prize. Yet awakening isn’t ever really the ultimate goal. Awakening is simply a step along the way. It is most definitely a significant step, yet one that calls us to establish an even deeper state of sustained wellbeing.
When you awaken, a vast and expansive world view opens before you. Each cell in your body is set afire. Every trapped and unresolved emotion suddenly yearns to be set free. The thoughts you once held to be true suddenly seem limited and narrow, and maybe even a bit foolish.
In the blazing light of awakening, the limitations we have lived with for so long are brilliantly exposed.
This brings about a classic good news/bad news scenario. The good new is that the world is infinitely more vast and loving than you ever imagined. The bad news is that you are still living in a cage of your own making. You are still held tight by fears, twisted memories, distorted beliefs, and false hopes.
The next step after awakening is learning how to turn these most sacred moments into a life of sustained love, connection, and creativity.
This is rarely an easy or graceful process. It is often a deeply challenging phase of growth. As difficult as this stage can be, each experience of awakening deeply and persistently calls to be integrated, embodied, more fully lived, and creatively expressed.
Moments of awakening are not meant to become moments of lost splendor, never to be touched upon again. Awakening nudges us to find new ways to express the connectedness we have experienced.
Embodiment involves closing the gap between what was revealed in your most sacred moments, and what you are currently living.
Embodiment empowers you to gracefully deepen and expand those juicy 'aha' moments so they eventually became your new normal—the ground you fearlessly and naturally stand upon. Embodiment progresses as you integrate what was revealed in those expansive states of awareness.
These two interdependent phases of the path, awakening and embodiment, are meant to work harmoniously together. They are the polarities of growth that are meant to dance and move as harmoniously and gracefully as day and night, masculine and feminine, giving and receiving.
We continually go through cycles of awakening and embodiment, creatively weaving these sometimes seemingly paradoxical yet complimentary impulses into the beautiful tapestry of our lives.
It has been a while since I have written a new post. Many months, in fact.
These have been intense months for me. Deeply fulfilling and challenging at the same time. Filled with gigantic bursts of creativity, much needed rest, healing play, and many sweet triumphant moments with people I love.
As Spring emerges in all her glory, I am yearning to share the fresh insights that have been percolating so ferociously through my heart and mind in recent months.
For many people the last year has been a time of intense anxiety related to personal and global challenges. Some of this stress has been related to events and circumstances that are far out of our control.
Fires, floods and random shootings have dominated our newsfeeds here in California. And hit way too close to home for many. Several friends lost everything they owned in the recent fires. A meditation center where I once lived and worked partially burned. A client’s family was deeply traumatized by the tragedy that unfolded in the Las Vegas shooting.
Global political drama ramps up and down, and then up again, right along with the volatile financial markets. Just as the stress of one event starts to subside, another wave of uncertainty rolls through our collective awareness.
There has been little time to calm down and get back to feeling calm, safe, and “normal” again before the next tragedy hits.
Even if all is well in your own life, the collective anxiety ripples through all of our psyches.
After these times of collective trauma, if the needed healing and calm doesn’t happen, our nervous systems stay in a perpetual state of high alert. This often happens on a subtle level we might not even recognize. It can show up as stress, overwhelm, sleep issues, and fatigue.
When we are faced with a challenging situation, our “fight, flight or freeze” response is triggered. We go into high alert. This happens when our well being or safety are threatened in some way.
The threat can be physical or emotional, real or imagined, in your own home or around the globe.
The “fight, flight or freeze” response is part of a built-in survival mechanism that helps us deal with threatening situations. A part of the brain called the amygdala sounds the danger alarm. This activates a whole host of physical and emotional responses that are designed to empowered us to meet the perceived threat head on. And hopefully, come out triumphant.
We’ve all know what this “fight, flight or freeze” response feels like…. rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, and the dry mouth that comes with the rush of adrenalin. Our breathing accelerates and digestion slows as the hormonal mix of our whole system rapidly changes. Cortisol, a powerful stress hormone, has its way with us. These physical changes are meant to give us the heightened awareness and abilities needed to deal with the threat at hand.
The problem emerges when we are regularly in situations where we feel our well being or survival are threatened. Maybe it is the boss who demands too much from you, or maybe it is ongoing financial pressure. Maybe you get trigger by challenges in your relationship, or by health issues.
A combination of stressful situations can easily push us over the edge. Whatever the catalysts, when you go into chronic “fight, flight or freeze” it doesn’t feel good…
You feel anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed. Fragmented, with a racing mind. Haunted by the never ending TO DO list that consumes every free moment.
You may toss and turn at night… waking up in the morning as tired as you were the night before.
You need a carb rush to get through that afternoon slump. You drink too much coffee to get it all done. And then drink wine to calm it all down.
You're just trying to get through the day intact… hoping for happy, settling for productive.
We’ve all had those kind of days.
The problem is when the anxious days turn into stressed out weeks, and even months.
Logically, even if you know you are safe and have survived whatever seemed to be so threatening, your nervous system stays on alert unless it is reset.
We become hyper-vigilant, ready to fend off any perceived threat to our well being and survival. In these challenging times it is easy to get caught in a near constant state of fear and uncertainty.
Until you crash and burn.
Sometime the people you love hold you up and love you up until the needed relaxation and rewiring can happen. But usually, the people you love suffer right along with you.
Here is the good news…
In recent years, a tremendous amount of research has been done on the brain and nervous system. As a result of this leading edge research, we have a deeper understand of how these survival mechanisms can be managed in ways that foster greater well being and happiness.
Many highly effective techniques have been developed that can rapidly reset your nervous system to calm.
These practices, which I often do with my clients, can be done in as little as 15 minutes. They rapidly clear and reset your autonomic nervous system to safe mode. Then you can naturally and appropriately respond in the present moment with more love, creativity, and awareness.
I'm sharing some Embodiment Practices for clearing trauma and emotions from your body, brain, and nervous system. Through these practices, I am going to teach you how to reset your system to calm, even in the midst of stressful times, personal or global. You can access them by clicking the button below.
Until then… take a deep breath, wiggle your toes, and feel your feet on the floor. Pause and simply be aware of your breath for a moment or two. Even one conscious breath can begin to turn your nervous system towards calm, and help you find your happy place… anytime, anywhere.
Isn’t it crazy how willing we are to believe the worst about ourselves?
We quietly throw ourselves under the bus a million times a day. We sell ourselves out, and act like we are tarnished and dented goods.
If you saw a friend doing this, it would be heartbreaking, wouldn’t it?
So we hide. We slay ourselves in the deep shadows of our psyche. Sometimes we shout, and sometimes we whisper about all the ways we are defective. Whether it is loudly voiced or almost inaudible, we relentlessly criticize and shame ourselves, day in and day out.
I’m calling you all out on the ways you’re are not kind to yourself, and invite you to start telling the truth about how magnificent you are—even with all the dents and tarnished parts.
Those parts make you more beautiful.
I repeat, those parts—the nuances, the imperfections you relentlessly try to hide, are the badges you have earned through a life well lived. They are the badges you get from rising each day to courageously face the challenges at hand.
These parts create your patina; the stuff that doesn’t need to be hidden. They are the wabi sabi marks that enhance your raw and natural beauty.
These are also the parts that need loving attention. They secretly want to be held and shamelessly cherished.
When we can summon the compassion and strength to wholeheartedly embrace them, these are the parts that make us feel real and whole and humble, gratefully yearning for more life.
With a warm embrace,
Have you ever felt expansive, yet grounded; connected, yet free; autonomous, yet deliciously united with the people around you?
You were touching into a state of wholehearted connection.
Why is connection so important? Research show that developing strong social connections correlates to higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, and the development of more trusting and cooperative relationships. The bottom line it that connection generates greater social, emotional, and physical well-being.
Enhancing your capacity for connection is not simply a skill to develop, but a way of life to embrace. It is a way of life that rocks. Some of the brass rings you get when you ride the connection merry-go-round: more satisfying relationships, better health, greater affluence, and security.
Sadly, the opposite is true for those who lack social connectedness. Low levels of connection are associated with declines in physical and psychological health, and increased violence behavior.
Really smart and well educated researchers have spend a lot of time and money verifying these claims. Studies have shown that developing greater social connections leads to lower levels of anxiety and depression, a stronger immune system, faster recovery from illness, a better brain, and even greater longevity.
Where connection lives, happiness follows.
Are you in yet? :-)
Knowing connection is really significant and deeply fulfilling is very different then being able to cultivate more of it in your life. This connected place is a sweet spot we may visit at random and sometimes unexpected times, yet all too often we don't know how to recreate it on demand. There are particular skills and capacities involved in creating deeply fulfilling and wholehearted connection. Most of us are in the process of discovering and honing those skills, so I've dedicating a series of blogs to the elements that go into that process.
There are three significant dimensions of wholehearted connection: connection with self, connection with your inner circle, and connection with your extended tribe.
Deepening connection in all three spheres creates a vast doorway to a bigger life.
Living a wholeheartedly connected life opens this door so that ever deepening connection becomes your new normal. Not just the place you visit briefly on vacation, or tip toe into from time to time, but the place where you are deeply grounded no matter where you travel or who you are with.
The most significant first step in creating wholehearted connection is getting more connected with yourself. With your body, your mind and soul; with your heart’s deepest longings, and even the fears and sorrows you have encase in tired old tragic stories and quietly tucked away.
When we stop dodging and hiding what lives authentically inside of us, life gets really interesting.
Connection quite naturally thrives as you discover the truer stories of who you are; the rich tales inscribed upon your soul that are waiting to be translated into the language of this time and place.
What does self connection feel like?
Being present. Body awake. Heart, soul, mind, brain, and nervous system aligned. Heart leading, and persistently beating you towards what matters most. Feeling alive and embodied as love. Your inner powers activated.
What does healthy connection with your inner circle feel like?
Safe. Safe. Safe. And did I mention safe? Love and respect. Acceptance. Authenticity. Room for vast differences, yet cut of the same cloth. Truth is the language spoken here. Warmth. Sharing it all; the burdens and the beauty.(Be sure to check out the shot below of some of my inner circle at a recent holiday brunch).
What does healthy connection to your extended tribe feel like?
One human family. Inclusive. A place for self expression. Gifting. Either no expectations, or crystal clear win/win expectation. Owning and sharing Your Superpowers. Being a loving stewart and protector of all people, the Earth, the leafy ones, and our many legged friends. Alignment with a greater power, whatever you may call it. Basking in the mystery and embracing the many facets of this complex and sometimes perplexing life.
If any of this sounds intriguing or maybe even downright compelling, you can open to a fuller experience of wholehearted connection right here, right now.
Today I'm sharing a really simple yet powerful practice for Grounding and Presence to access greater self connection.
Try the Practice for Grounding and Presence Here
In loving connection,
We all long for connection.
Most people want connection more than just about anything else, whether they realize it or not. For some, this longing lives as a roaring demand of the universe and its many inhabitants; a near constant invitation to engage. For others it is a tender, almost inaudible plea that doesn’t expect to ever be fully heard.
Whatever your habitual connection style, you’re hardwired to reach out for connection. Healthy connection, vibrant connection, or whatever quality of connection we can possibly get. Because life in these bodies is all about feeling fully alive and totally plugged in.
When we feel wholeheartedly connected, we feel energized, creative, and ultra magnetic.
We were all conceived in a blaze of connection between a hard driving sperm and a willing egg. Some part of us always wants to revisit this juicy creative place of vast potential, even when the connectedness has nothing to do with sex.
When we’re in this connected place, anything is possible. ANYTHING.
The cute sexy partner, the bulging bank account, the groovy new digs, the work that really matters, the trek through the Amazonian wilds, the flat belly after the baby, or the award that says you’ve made it.
Within all these desires is the longing to feel more wholeheartedly connected. The things we want the most are simply doorways to deeper connection; connection to our self and to our tribe, local and global.
We’re all wired a bit differently, but it goes something like this:
The dream guy makes you feeling more connected to love and self worth.
The sexy toned body connects you to feeling desirable and confident.
Extra $ in the bank opens the door to connection with the infinite number of possibilities you can buy with all that cash.
The island get-a-way with your sweetheart equals connection to cool surf, warm sand, and the juiciest parts of both of you that only come out to play in the spaciousness created by island time.
The shiny new car connects you to feelings of freedom, confidence, and success.
Professional opportunities create connection to challenges that are yearning to meet up with your unique genius.
And on and on it goes. Creating healthy nourishing connections is a key elements to accomplishing anything and everything: a loving and supportive romantic partnership, professional success, jaw dropping creative expansion, and more influence or affluence in your life. Connection is the key element that empowers creative manifestation in every area of life.
It is the full tank of gas on your long awaited road trip.
We yearn for connection because when we feel connected, life gets better. Not just a tad bit better, but exponentially, extravagantly, way, way, better.
When we are wholeheartedly connected we feel like we are plugged in, turned on, and shining in all our glory.
My wish for you this holiday season...
Deeper and more authentic connection in every situation; with the barista you will never cross paths with again, and with the toxic family member who drives you absolutely crazy at every holiday gathering. It all matters, and it all offers another vast opportunity for wholehearted connection.
Holding you in the heart of love,
As we approach the Winter Solstice here in the Western Hemisphere, the vibrant life giving force of the Sun is so clearly waning. Our souls know it. Our bodies feel it.
This year more than ever before, I am yearning for the warmth and light of a bright new season.
This fall has been hard. Full of shadows and conflict, rising hate and collapsing hope. I long for happier times, as do so many.
I am tired of politics. I am tired of conflict. I am tired of feeling that this human drama is taking another wrong turn.
Yet, in the time of long shadows, we stop denying the darkness that has always been here. In these trying times, the distance between the ideals we hold and what is unfolding right before our eyes is too big to grasp and hold, or make any real sense of.
We have all been stretched a bit too thin in recent weeks. I have fought for the light and prayed for the good until I was exhausted, fed up, and angry.
I have asked again and again in recent months: Where is the bold and loving new world I have been dreaming of and working to create since I was a child?
After having many restless nights, deep and jarring discussions with friends, and a few dips into hopelessness, I have found a new peace.
I have claimed this peace through surrender.
Not through surrendering to one side or another, but by surrendering to a greater force that embraces and includes the black and the white, the red and the blue, and all that lives within these polarities. I surrender, again and yet again, to the messy and sometimes painful process of birthing this bold new world.
I surrender, and I humbly bow to the vast creative power that sparked this magnificent life in the first place.
I surrender to the great unknown, and trust that amidst all the strife and craziness, everything really is all right.
I trust in living with my eyes wide open, embracing all with a heart that knows no bounds.
I trust in the small acts of goodness that are quietly healing the broken human heart which has felt so much suffering.
I trust in the returning light that is, in this very moment, giving birth to a whole new world. Right in the midst all this trauma and drama.
Standing in this eternal light,
An energy therapist, relationship and spiritual life coach, Ariana is a lover of love in all of its many delicious forms; self love, couples love, family love, community love and ultimately, the universal love that pervades all.